Today is National Teachers Day, so I'm taking a break from coupons, shopping and frugal living to tell you about two teachers who changed my life and the life of countless students around the world.
If we're really lucky, we run into one or two teachers who make a difference. Unfortunately, we must often leave these heroes behind as we move on to the next grade, the next school or the next life.
Many years ago, I was blessed with the rare exception: Two gifted teachers who turned into unbeatable friends.
Art and Dana were a young married couple just starting their careers when we first met. Already they were brilliant teachers with a fully developed philosophy: "Teach students the facts and you've fed them for a day. Teach a student the joy of learning and you've fed them for a lifetime."
Sadly, school administrators rarely understood or appreciated this approach, despite well-deserved awards and kudos. Eventually, frustration drove Art and Dana to desert the constricting American educational system. For 35-plus years they mentored students in Germany, Cuba, Greece, Morocco, Japan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and more.
As testament to their worldwide impact, condolences, letters, flowers and phone calls poured in after Art's much-too-early death last June. Because Art and Dana were so inextricably linked, many of these testimonials spoke of them in the same breath.
Today my thoughts return to the awkward 15-year-old they first took under their wings. That gawky girl was naive beyond belief, overshadowed by brilliant siblings and cowed by years of ruler-wielding nuns. Under the tutelage of this talented couple, I gained confidence, learned what I had to offer the world, began writing in earnest, and actually aced physiology.
My parents died too young and I never properly thanked them for all they had done. Thankfully, I learned my lesson and have repeatedly told my teachers, my second parents, my lifelong friends, how very much they changed my life.
Please, leave no teacher behind. Take the opportunity of National Teachers Day to thank those who made a difference in your life.